Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Least Visited Countries Went Viral

In Kiribati, the last of the 25 least visited countries I visited myself.
Kiribati was also the 197th of the world's 198 countries I visited. Cape Verde will be last in May.
Did you hear about the 25 least visited countries in the world? I wrote a blogbost about them in January. I soon realized that would be the most read post I'd ever written. It was soon picked up on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, receiving thousands of hits.

Business Insider

In March, Business Insider got in touch and asked if I would mind having the blog post published on their website too. The website compiles blogposts from many writers, usually on recent and relevant topics. It is the 412th most visited website in the world. I didn't mind providing travel inspiration to even more people, hopefully contributing to them selecting slightly more excoiting travel destinations that Spain, the Bahamas and Paris. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those places, except that they are crowded, pricey and very touristy. I guess that means there is something wrong with them. Nevertheless, you get what I am saying. I hate all inclusive holidays.

Business Insider received almost half a million hits on the post and made the story 'famous.'


The 4th biggest website in the world, Yahoo, then picked up a story. In a slightly odd way. They picked up an article that The Christian Science Monitor had written about the blogpost, quoting me as a travel writer and linking to my blogpost. I don't know how many hits the post got, but Yahoo featured it on their main page ( as one of the top stories for at least 24 hours. and it has now been among the top two stories in their travel section for 5 days.

They also used the photo of 'Doors to Hell' in Turkmenistan. Their punch line of the piece was 'Obscure? Yes. But that's part of the charm.' I like!


Next out was Kottke, a webssite that finds interesting stories online, writes their own often funny version and links to the original one.


Some readers also posted it on Reddit, where people went wild commenting on the piece. One of the people commenting had his nick as 'pmtuvalu,' leading some people to believe that the person who made that account is actually the prime minister of Tuvalu, a country in the list and one I recently visited. Thousands of comments were posted, including an invitation to the Prime Minister to do an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit. That listing gave me thousands of hits.

The comments on Reddit range from plain out stupid to brilliant. Here are a few examples:

You just called the Prime Minister "dude", dude.

I wish I had this guy's life.

I've been to Liechtenstein! You can drive right in.
[Response:] And 10 minutes later, drive right out the far side again.

To be fair, some of them are itty bitty and very isolated. I can understand why they wouldn't get visitors.
[Response:] Yeah, it does all seem to be a mix of "wartorn shithole" and "in the middle of the pacific"

I'm thinking Google should go to Nauru, do his Google Street View thingy, and give them Google Fiber and computers.

I've always wondered why every time Bhutan is mentioned in a blogpost, there's a big Nordic face taking up half the frame.

In other languages

Hungarian Index then came up with their own version, again linking in to my blog post. Hungarians seemed to love it and flooded my blog with hits. And more recently a Chinese version was posted by Sohu, one of the biggest website in the country, and a Vietnamese version by Zing. Russian Fergana News also posted their own version. They picked up the story from the Facebook page of Alternative Turkmenistan News which linked to my blog post.

TV 2

The biggest Norwegian commercial television broadcaster, TV 2, tried to call me repeatedly. First when I was in Tuvalu, then when I was in Kiribati. Of course, Netcom/Telia Sonera which is my employer's telecom operator, can't be bothered to set up roaming agreements with any Pacific countries, so TV 2 couldn't get through. What happened to being a service provider, Netcom? TV 2 finally got through, thanks to Twitter and Skype.

They did a story on my travelling in general (having visited 197 of the 198 countries) and didn't link in to the blog post. It still provided more Norwegian hits than usual.

And then some

Many other websites have also listed the post. Let me just mention a few such as Twisted Sifter, New Advent, Dominican News, Somali Land Press, Zagat, Independend TravelerDemocratic Underground, List Gazette, Toronto Star, Nubby Twiglet, eHotelier, 11 Points, Boston Herald and FARK. Do you know of more? Please add them in the comments below.

In total, the story received almost a million hits from Business Insider and alone. The others do not make statistics available, but I presume that Yahoo must have generated at least ten times that. Several million people have in any case read the blog post. But the question remains, how many will actually go to any of those countries as a result of it? No one knows, but it will be exciting to do a similar post with updated numbers in 2 years time to try to find out.

And thank you very much all who have tipped others about the blog post and to all of you who got in touch with me with questions, comments or own travel stories! It was much appreicated to hear from you all. I will keep travelling and continue blogging about my trips to relatively unusual destinations. It is doubtful if any of the stories will be distributed as widely as the 25 least visited countries, but I you may still possible enoy future posts.

And yes, I am writing a book about my travels. Whether in Norwegian, English or both remains to be seen. Do not hesitate to get in touch if you're interested in publishing it.